In The Vineyard: November 2009

Riverbench Vineyard

These winter months are when grape growers get to sit down and reflect on how to better improve their operations. I am engulfed with paperwork, planning, and budgeting for the 2010 season. Yes, cool, wet weather doesn’t mean farming stops, it means I have no excuse for a paper-stacked desk and I can get all of the office work done which I have been putting off since harvest began.

Reviewing the good and the bad from 2009 and meeting with my vineyard foreman to get their feelings and ideas on where we can improve on efficiency is where the 2010 vintage begins. I look at fertility options, where we can improve growth and where we may need to decrease growth to maximize both quantity and quality of grapes. I look at irrigation amounts, timing of applications and length of applications so that every precious drop of water applied has the maximum benefit to the vines. I take a look at the latest in machinery, materials, and viticulture philosophies and adjust where I can to make my operation as successful as possible.

Sitting down and learning about the wines which are being produced from my vines another fun operation this time of year. Discussing where the best fruit came from the vineyard and what may have been associated with that success is very important with my partnering winemakers. I will get muddy in the vineyard, the winemakers will be molding their wines, and we need everyone to keep raising their wine glasses to great Santa Maria Valley wines.

Jim Stollberg manages vineyards for Hampton and Maverick Farming Companies in the Santa Maria Valley. He can be reached at (805)310-9322 or


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